Cork is quite a big city but it does have an old town and some tourist attractions. Blarney castle, where the famous Blarney stone is, is nearby- about 15 minutes by bus.
I only had one day in Cork so I bought a bus ticket and headed to Blarney. The castle has been around a long time and is quite well preserved. I bought a ticket to see Blarney house so I went there first. The family still lives in it- they reclaim the house at 3 pm once it closes to the public.
The outside of Blarney house is castle- like, but without any symmetry. Inside the house, on the other hand, are features with lots of symmetry, like a door that leads nowhere but is there for the look of it. A few of it's interesting features include a beautiful hand crafted rosewood piano, gilded mirrors, many family portraits and family crests. Their bedrooms were also on display, all in different colours, with old style tubs, some of which were in the actual room with the bed. I wonder where they put all their stuff? The rooms were spotless. The guide even showed us the tv they hide behind a screen in the sitting room so they definitely live there.
Then I headed to the castle- there was a shorter line this time! Usually the line extends through the castle to the bottom. Blarney castle used to be quite luxurious - painted and furnished- but now it is hard to imagine. There are many rooms of all sizes, and although the walls and ground are well worn, the castle is basically complete, so you can't ask for much more of such an old castle. Walking up the stairs to the Blarney stone, you pass a kitchen, toilets and the Earl's bedroom. In the biggest part of the castle there was a dining room and a ball room. There are remnants of a fireplace, but there is no floor anymore, making two stories one, with no roof.
That's where the blarney stone is, on the roof. Basically it's part of the castle, another stone holding it together. The only thing that makes it look different from other stones is the almost black mark on it from being kissed so much!
So basically there are 'holes' throughout the castle (I'm not sure what for, just how the castle is built?) and beneath the blarney stone is a hole, so you have to be sort of careful (the others have bars through them.) There's a guy there who tells you what to do - you can tell he's been there for a long time, he has quite a concise script. So basically you sit down, back to the stone, and bend back, putting your upper body in the hole lol. (It isn't as dangerous as it sounds.) The Blarney stone is behind you, so your head is in the hole, you bend your neck back a bit and kiss the Blarney stone! I put some sparkly lip gloss on for the occasion lol. They take photos of you hoping you'll pay up, so I had a girl take a picture of me. It's great except all you see is my neck lol it. Anyway, looking at the pictures after, one was similar to the one I took, and the other was me, looking skeptical at the camera before I kissed the thing. Think of the germs!! Other famous people who have kissed the stone: Winston Churchill, Vince Vaughan.
The grounds are pretty sweet. There is a "poison garden," which features some dangerous plants, including a couple mentioned in Harry Potter. There are also two small waterfalls, wishing steps, witch's kitchen (a cool cave with a fire pit) and witch's stone (which actually kind of looks like a witch!) The area is really an awesome tourist attraction.
That took care of most of my day but i found time to explore Cork. When I got back, I walked around the shopping street in Cork and found it's English market- lots of fresh meat and veggies, as well as tourist crap lol. Then I saw a beautiful church in the distance, so I walked to it. Unfortunately it was closed but it had an amazing exterior. Cork actually had a few really nice statues and memorials. It also has a really cute park in the centre of town.
I went back to the hostel and found out there was live music that night. It was still hours away, so after relaxing a bit I decided to check out the Cork Joal- an old jail. I had seen a picture of it- incredible brick building with 4 spokes, basically in the shape of a 'plus' sign. So I walked for 30 minutes, including some uphill, and found that it was closed. Like completely- not even an railed fence that you can look through! And the walls are massive- like 15 feet high! I don't get the impression anyone escaped from there!
I did find one small hole that someone kicked out of the bottom corner of the gate. Naturally I pulled out my camera and stuck my hand through the hole to take a picture and get a look lol. I'd come all that way! Unfortunately all I could see is one of those so- called spokes... It seems once you go in the gate you had to go around a corner to see the whole building, so it just wasn't going to happen. Next time I guess. It looked so cool judging by the picture. At least at this point I had quite a good idea about Cork! On the way, I walked along the canal and saw an old mental institution. I also got a great view of the city.
That night, the band was a cover band and although they tried, they basically sucked. So I had a murphy's (knock off of guinness, although its been around a long time so I should say a competitor) and some Jameson, and called it a night on Cork.
The next day was my flight to London after all!!
I really enjoyed Ireland. People just stop in a pub whenever for a pint. Awesome. The music is (mostly) great too!
The country is beautiful and there is just so much more to see! I got a heritage card and saw only 3 sights out of at least 40!!
I must go back one day.